This past weekend, I surprised Tammy on Saturday morning with the suggestion that we complete our farm chores and then go to one of the various parks that are within an hour to an hour and half drive from our farm. Taking a quick day trip to explore nature is something we give lip service to, but usually let the list of things that must be done win the battle.
After some consideration (and completion of the chores) Tammy agreed that we could take a trip to see Backbone State Park near Strawberry Point. It only took around an hour to get there and we enjoyed the park immensely (we'll let that part of the trip have its own blog later).
On our return, we grabbed some take out lunch in Strawberry Point and decided we'd visit another park on the way back and eat the lunch there.
|Don't let it fool you, there be serious ruts in that there road!|
We kept debating whether this was a place we had visited over ten years ago or not. It seemed like it might be, but then we doubted ourselves.
It turns out it was both a good and a bad thing that we doubted. Because if we had remembered it a bit more, we might have tried something else for a quick visit and location for eating lunch!
The big problem? We were in our little car (a Honda Civic - named Belle) and compact vehicles don't have much clearance. And the road... the road is definitely one that is "less traveled." Or, it should have been less-traveled by us in the sedan. Chumley, the big red truck, would have enjoyed the trip. Belle, the little blue car.... not so much.
And once you got to a certain point, there wasn't much choice but to go all of the way down... because there wasn't a good option to turn around.
The "parking area" wasn't all that large and this is the view that greeted us at the end of the road. There was a rarely traveled trail at the left and a shelter to the right (presumed to be a rest area) and what looked like a picnic shelter a little further down.
At this point, I think we recognized the place as one we had visited before. It is a beautiful location and would have been worthy of a hike. But, we weren't really prepared for this sort of hike and we were really ready to eat our lunch and we needed to be getting back home. Alas for us.
Brush Creek Canyon Preserve is largely undisturbed by human development and that's a good part of what makes it special.
A research paper by Lawrence Eilers in December of 1974 identifies a whole host of plant species in this small, wild area in Iowa. Part of the abstract of this paper is below:
Brush Creek Canyon State Preserve ... contains steep, wooded ravines; tall, vertical outcrops of dolomitic limestone; clear streams; cascades area; and cool springs. These habitats support a variety of native plant communities, resulting in a rich flora of at least 268 species of vascular plants. Man-made disturbance is minimal, and there are several species of rare plants that increase the importance of the preserve.
As I did some searching for more information on this area, I came across a fair amount of mis-information, including claims that there is camping and this is a state park. But, with a little more digging I found the paper linked above and I noticed that the Tallgrass Prairie Center had offered a field trip in the Spring of 2018.
Let's just say that this has peaked my interest. If a person who is familiar with the plant species and the preserve could take us on a guided tour, we're in!
But, we'll bring the truck next time.